Advisory Board

Richard “rms” M. Stallman

Richard “rms” M. Stallman is a software developer and software freedom activist. In 1983 he announced the project to develop the GNU operating system, a Unix-like operating system meant to be entirely free software, and has been the project’s leader ever since. With that announcement RMS also launched the Free Software Movement. In October 1985 he started the Free Software Foundation.
 
The GNU/Linux system, which is a variant of GNU that also uses the kernel Linux developed by Linus Torvalds, are used in tens or hundreds of millions of computers, and are now preinstalled in computers available in retail stores. However, the distributors of these systems often disregard the ideas of freedom which make free software important.
 
That is why, since the mid-1990s, Richard has spent most of his time in political advocacy for free software, and spreading the ethical ideas of the movement, as well as campaigning against both software patents and dangerous extension of copyright laws. Before that, he developed a number of widely used software components of the GNU system, including the original Emacs, the GNU Compiler Collection, the GNU symbolic debugger (gdb), GNU Emacs, and various other programs for the GNU operating system.
 
Richard pioneered the concept of copyleft, and is the main author of the GNU General Public License, the most widely used free software license.
 
He gives speeches frequently about free software and related topics. Common speech titles include “The GNU Operating System and the Free Software movement”, “The Dangers of Software Patents”, and “Copyright and Community in the Age of the Computer Networks”. A fourth common topic consists of explaining the changes in version 3 of the GNU General Public License, which was released in June 2007.
 
In 1999, Richard called for development of a free online encyclopedia through the means of inviting the public to contribute articles.
 
In Venezuela, Richard has promoted the adoption of free software in the state’s oil company (PDVSA), in municipal government, and in the nation’s military. Richard is on the Advisory Council of TeleSUR, the television station launched by Venezuela and other countries to counter the biased news of the corporate stations.
 
After personal meetings, he obtained positive statements about free software from the then-President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, from French 2007 presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, and from the president of Ecuador Rafael Correa.
 
Richard’s writings on free software issues can be found in Free Software, Free Society. He has received the following awards:

  • 1986: Honorary life time membership of the Chalmers Computer Society
  • 1990: Received the exceptional merit award MacArthur Fellowship
  • 1990: The Association for Computing Machinery’s Grace Murray Hopper Award “For pioneering work in the development of the extensible editor EMACS (Editing Macros).”
  • 1996: Honorary doctorate from Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology
  • 1998: Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer award
  • 1999: Yuri Rubinsky Memorial Award
  • 2001: The Takeda Techno-Entrepreneurship Award for Social/Economic Well-Being
  • 2001: Honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow
  • 2002: United States National Academy of Engineering membership
  • 2003: Honorary doctorate from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • 2004: Honorary doctorate from the Universidad Nacional de Salta
  • 2004: Honorary professorship from the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería del Perú
  • 2005: Fundazione Pistoletto prize
  • 2007: Honorary professorship from the Universidad Inca Garcilaso de la Vega
  • 2007: Honorary doctorate from the Universidad de Los Angeles de Chimbote
  • 2007: Honorary doctorate from the University of Pavia
Richard graduated from Harvard in 1974 with a BA in physics. During his college years, he also worked as a staff hacker at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, learning operating system development by doing it. He wrote the first extensible Emacs text editor there in 1975. He also developed the AI technique of dependency-directed backtracking, also known as truth maintenance. In January 1984 he resigned from MIT to start the GNU project.
 
Watch The Dangers of Software Patents, Richard M. Stallman Speech – University of San Francisco, The Free Software Movement and the GNU/Linux Operating System. Richard M. Stallman Seminar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2006 – Part 1, and Richard M. Stallman Seminar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2006 – Part 2.
 
Read An Introduction to GCC, Debugging with GDB: The GNU Source-Level Debugger, Using GCC: The GNU Compiler Collection Reference Manual for GCC 3.3.1, Gnu Emacs Manual: For Version 22, GNU C Library System & Network Applications, Bison Manual for Version 1.875, Interview: Richard Stallman, Can you trust your computer?, The Saint of Free Software, and Richard Stallman — On “Free Hardware”.